CNN Labels Palin’s Environmental Stances as ‘Outside-the-Mainstream’

Two segments on Tuesday’s Election Center program, which were promoted by host Campbell Brown as having ‘no bias, no bull,’ actually tried to paint Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin as having a "very extreme" and "outside-the-mainstream" viewpoint on environmental issues, since on the issue of global warming, she’s "not one... who would attribute it to being man-made." Brown herself suggested during the second segment that the debate over the cause of global warming was already over [see video at right].

Audio available here

Correspondent Randi Kaye interviewed University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner during the first segment, a report on Palin’s environmental record. She asked, " In a word, if you can sum up Sarah Palin's record on the environment here, what would it be?" Steiner answered, "Abysmal." Anderson Cooper’s blog on CNN.com republished the professor’s September 7 editorial from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which he railed against Governor Palin: "In addition to her frightening lack of qualification to be vice president (much less president) of the United States, Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice, pro-gun, right-wing conservative who wants creationism taught in schools." When a shorter version of her report aired on Wednesday’s The Situation Room, Kaye added that Steiner "says he’s not a Republican or a Democrat." Despite this clarification, it is clear from his editorial that Steiner is a liberal.

After a commercial break which followed Kaye’s segment, Brown moderated a panel discussion with CNN’s Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin, as well as Republican strategist Bay Buchanan, about Palin’s record on the environment. Brown first mentioned that "[h]er [Palin’s] view is that global warming is not man-made." Toobin, who sarcastically remarked in May that acknowledging man-made global warming is "like acknowledging gravity -- it is a scientific fact," took no time in criticizing this stance by the Alaska governor: "It's a very extreme view.... But the view of global warming [Palin’s] reflects an extreme outside-the-mainstream view that John McCain doesn't share, and frankly, no respectable scientist shares."

Brown then turned to Buchanan and remarked that "the debate over global warming did seem to come to an end, though. You even had Bush coming around on that over the last year." Buchanan argued that "there's many scientists that suggest there is no evidence whatsoever that it's related to anything man has done," and stuck to this position through the remainder of the discussion. The host later repeated this sentiment at the end of the segment: "I don't want to re-debate global warming. To me, that issue is dead and pretty much decided."

The transcript of the panel discussion, which began 55 minutes into the 8 pm hour of CNN’s Election Center program:

CAMPBELL BROWN: We want to talk about -- more about Sarah Palin's views on many of these issues. For some, they are heavenly -- for others, very much to the extreme. I've got the political panel back with me now -- Jeff Toobin, Roland Martin, and Bay Buchanan. And, Jeff, you saw the pieces we just aired -- Randi Kaye's pieces from Alaska, listening to her father. But on environmental issues in particular, one of the positions that's getting a lot of scrutiny is global warming. Her view is that global warming is not man-made. Now, that is different from what John McCain believes and different from even President Bush, who's come around in this issue.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: It's a very extreme view. Look, her views about getting oil out of Alaska are not extreme. Everybody in Alaska -- Democrats and Republicans, they're pro-exploring in the wilderness. But the view of global warming reflects an extreme outside-the-mainstream view that John McCain doesn't share, and frankly, no respectable scientist shares.

BROWN: And, Bay --

BAY BUCHANAN: Yeah.

BROWN: I mean, the debate over global warming did seem to come to an end, though. You even had Bush coming around on that over the last year.

BUCHANAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BROWN: Is that not fair?

BUCHANAN: It's completely ridiculous. Jeff's got to get outside the East Coast a little bit, read some more scientists. There's all kinds -- I think, there's many scientists that suggest there is no evidence whatsoever that it's related to anything man has done. That it's just a course of nature itself, but one or the other that's the key.

BROWN: But, Bay, John McCain disagrees. George Bush now disagrees with you.

BUCHANAN: I don't care. I don't care. The scientists who are out there are very clear about this. This issue is not resolved and goes --

BROWN: Okay. I leave it --

ROLAND MARTIN: Hey, Bay -- Bay --

BUCHANAN: There's nothing extreme.

MARTIN: Hey, Bay, you also got the people out there who don't think I'm black enough. Look, you can find any scientist who can -- who will have the opposite opinion. The reality is, she, again, as Jeff has talked about -- when you have McCain with his position, Obama and Biden and Bush, yes, she's in a different corner. But, again, where this goes to, Campbell, is when you don't answer the questions yourselves, you're allowing others to define your position. That's the danger in allowing other people to speak for you.

BUCHANAN: We know where she stands. We know exactly. She's very up-front about it. You just reported where she stands.

MARTIN: Yeah, she doesn't think it's man-made.

BROWN: Let me bring it to a different perspective here, because the McCain campaign itself had said that this election is not necessarily going to turn on the issues, but rather how people feel about the candidates, their character, their personalities. So, Bay, to what extent are -- is the McCain campaign celebrating her -- you know, these images of her hunting and being very much of the Western, you know, sort of --

MARTIN: They love it.

BUCHANAN: And, of course, the fact that she is a hunter and she owned a fleet, a fishing fleet -- I mean, she's obviously extremely concerned about the environment. The fact that she's so popular in Alaska, which is very concerned about environment, shows she's there with them. She's mainstream. The hunters and the fishermen in Iowa -- I mean, Ohio and Michigan and out there, Pennsylvania -- she is going to take care of them.

MARTIN: Okay. Answer the question.

BROWN: You have to see it from a purely political point of view, though, these images are effective, are they not?

TOOBIN: They are. But, you know, it's not our job to evaluate the effectiveness of images. The images are great, but if we're going to try to evaluate what people stands on the issues are, and whether they are consistent with science, and I apologize if that's an elitist view.

BROWN: I'm with Jeff. I don't want to re-debate global warming. To me, that issue is dead and pretty much decided. But quickly, Roland, on the cultural issue.

MARTIN: Very simple. The Obama folks want to go after her on the hardcore issues. They want it to be about personality. Smart political strategy? But as Jeff say, it's not our job to go along with the gang.

BROWN: All right, guys, we got to end it there. But as always, Jeff, Roland, Bay, a great discussion. Thanks much, guys -- appreciate it.

BUCHANAN: You're welcome, Campbell.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center